It's the final week of the regular season of the NFL and there is plenty still to be decided. So lets preview the games and pick some winners.
BUFFALO BILLS @ NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS - BILLS WIN
The Patriots have clinched number one seeding in the playoffs along with home advantage. Given all this, is Bill Belichick really going to expose Tom Brady to the Buffalo defensive line for four full quarters? This is the Buffalo defense line that essentially shut down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense a week ago. It is the best defensive line in the NFL.
With a Superbowl potentially on the line the Patriots will err on the side of caution and take things easy in what is essentially a meaningless game. The Bills will be out for blood though. After contriving to lose against the Raiders last week they will want to finish the season on a win.
CHICAGO BEARS @ MINNESOTA VIKINGS - VIKINGS WIN
The Bears benched Cutler for Clausen and Aaron Kromer's point was semi-proven in that the Chicago offense looked better with the QB calling out the right adjustments at the line. So yes, the Bears offense did look better without Cutler under center. The point was only semi-proven though because, Clausen averaged 4 yards per throw.
On the road against a strong Vikings pass defense and Clausen's average is likely to drop even further. The Vikings are going to close up an encouraging season with a win that sees them finish the
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CLEVELAND BROWNS @ BALTIMORE RAVENS - RAVENS WIN
Gary Kubiak's ex-team may have been able to completely shut down the Ravens offense that found itself with both of it's starting tackles but it is hard to see the Browns pulling off the same trick. If they do though expect to Karlos Dansby be key. The inside linebacker should be back fit for this game and much of the Texans success against the Ravens came from blitzes up the middle.
Dansby is only just coming back to fitness though and the Ravens will no doubt be working none stop to improve against interior blitzes. With a spot in the playoffs on the line Joe Flacco will bounce back from last week's horror show to deliver a performance that takes the Ravens into the playoffs.
DALLAS COWBOYS @ WASHINGTON - COWBOYS WIN
The Cowboys are just a much better team than Washington. If they win here and other results go their way then they can lock up home advantage and/or a first round bye.
Given the state of the Washington pass defense Tony Romo and his wide receivers will ensure that Dallas finish the season 12-4. Last week against the Eagles Jeremy Maclin was open deep repeatedly. The Washington secondary just couldn't cover him. They won't do any better against Dez Bryant. The
Cowboys will win easily.
INDIANAPOLIS COLTS @ TENNESSEE TITANS - COLTS WIN
The Colts offense has barely been able to move the chains let alone score since the week 10 bye week. Fortunately, for Indianapolis though they are playing the Titans in week 17. In other words it is the perfect opportunity to find some form before heading into the playoffs.
Furthermore, with T.Y.Hilton expected to play this week it should be a blowout.
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS @ KANSAS CITY CHIEFS - CHIEFS WIN
Somehow, nobody knows how, Phillip River managed to find a way to guide the Chargers to a win against the 49ers. Kansas City are a better team than San Fransisco though and they are at home. Going to play in Arrowhead is a tough enough task at the best of times but going to play there with a playoff spot on the line against a team that needs the win is nightmarish.
NEW YORK JETS @ MIAMI DOLPHINS - DOLPHINS WIN
Lets give Rex Ryan and the Jets some credit it isn't lack of effort that is responsible for their 3-12 record. In pretty much every game the Jets have gone into the contest and given the opposition a game. The problem is lack of quality i.e. poor drafting over a number of seasons.
Heading into the last week of the season then the Jets will put up a fight. It won't be enough against the Dolphins though. Although they are ruled out of the playoff race it has been an encouraging season for Miami. Landry and Wallace are a good wide receiver pair, the offensive line is no longer a complete disaster and best of all Ryan Tannehill is showing real signs of development. At home the Dolphins will have enough to finish the season on a high.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS @ TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS - SAINTS WIN
Both these teams have big issues to deal with in the offseason. At least Tampa Bay are going to be picking near to or at the top of the draft though. With there seven wins though the Saints are going to have to be much more creative.
You will notice I wrote seven wins because, on the road Drew Brees and the Saints will have enough to squeeze out a win in Tampa.
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES @ NEW YORK GIANTS - GIANTS WIN
It is tempting to feel sorry for the Eagles. After all they are going to miss out on the playoffs with a winning record when some team from the NFC South is going to be hosting a home playoff game.
It is only tempting though because, in the defeats to Seattle and Dallas the Eagles have been really poor. Heading into the final week of the season it is hard to see Chip Kelly's men turning things around. Especially, when Odell Beckham Junior is making Eli look like the more talented Manning brother. At home the Giants will have enough to pick up a win that is essentially meaningless for the team but should make Beckham the offensive rookie of the year.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS @ HOUSTON TEXANS - TEXANS WIN
Unbelievably, somehow the Texans are still in the playoff hunt. They beat the Jaguars, the Ravens lose and Chargers do the same and they clinch a wildcard spot. J.J. Watt is not going to let an opportunity like that go to waste. Expect to see him beat on Blake Bortles like a pinata. That combined with Arian Foster at running back should be enough to see the Texans home.
The Texans will get the win then and if the Ravens and Chargers do their thing then the Texans will be a wildcard team and there will be no arguing with J.J. Watt for MVP.
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